The Olympic Games
Sports enthusiast or not, you’re likely to feel something special in the air when the Olympic Games roll around. Whether you prefer to sit back on the couch and watch runners whiz around the track on TV or you feel compelled to see it all live, the Web sites we’ve collected will help you plan your Olympic experience.
Depending on whom you ask, the Olympic games are a celebration of athleticism and sportsmanship, a chance for the world to come together peacefully for competition and camaraderie, or a farce littered with commercialism and drug-abusing athletes—a shadow of what the Games once represented. On the Web, you’ll learn who’s in charge of organizing and standardizing the Games today, and you can get the scoop on the Olympic Movement.
- The International Olympic Committee, known as the IOC, is the international, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that supervises the organization of the Summer and Winter Games. You’ll see the IOC referenced frequently, along with the term Olympic Movement, which refers to all organizations that follow the IOC’s standards.
For general information …
MSN Encarta Encyclopedia
provides a basic definition of the Olympic Games. You’ll learn how different countries and athletes become involved in both the summer and winter ceremonies, as well as how the event has been affected by political turmoil and racial tension. Recent developments are also included in this clearly written chapter.
For Olympics organizing bodies …
is the official site of the Olympic Movement, which gathers followers of the Olympic Charter who recognize the International Olympic Committee. You’ll learn about the movement’s mission and purpose and be introduced to the structure of each international committee and organization involved. Visuals, such as interactive charts, aid the explanation.
The United States Olympic Committee
explains how various organizations, international federations, and national governing bodies help oversee the Games. Especially of note is the role of the International Olympic Committee, which sets the schedule for Winter and Summer Games and determines which sports to omit or include.
Obviously, the Olympics have changed drastically since ancient times—but what was it really like back then? To get a glimpse, or to perform more extensive research of Games past, the Internet is all you’ll need.
- You’ll find that Web sites offer slightly different accounts of Olympic history, and sometimes provide different dates. Consult a few sources to get the best overall idea.
For the modern Olympics ...
provides an interactive timeline of every Olympics since 1896. Browse photos of the medalists, read highlights of the competition, and learn who presided over the opening ceremonies and torch lightings. For modern Games, including Torino 2006, you can take a virtual tour of the Olympic Village.
The Olympic Museum
in Lausanne, Switzerland teaches visitors about the "sport, art and culture" of the modern games. Pictures and descriptions of many exhibits are available online and a virtual tour is available for those who are planning on visiting the museum. There is also a PDF document, “The Modern Olympic Games
,” that tell what makes the competition and cermonies unique and how the Games have developed since Athens 1896.
For the ancient Olympics ...
Perseus Digital Library
is maintained by Tufts University. In “A Tour of Ancient Olympia,” created in preparation for the 1996 Games in Atlanta photos of ancient vase paintings accompany intriguing sections. “Sports,” for example, details ancient Olympic events such as chariot races; “The Context of the Games & the Olympic Spirit” spotlights political influence in the earliest Games and discusses whether athletes were considered amateur or professional.
outlines how the Olympics have changed: ancient Greeks used the event to honor gods, but today, the emphasis is on athletics, and the Games are highly influenced by politics, performance-enhancing drugs, and commercialism. Content is geared to elementary-school classrooms and, while informal, is helpfully straightforward and thorough.
For Olympics myths ...
is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America. The author of this article, a Classics professor at the University of Florida, tackles the subject of Olympic Games’ myths, including the idea that competing athletes must be amateurs. Other topics include the origin of the five-ring symbol and the lighting of the Olympic torch.
The University of Pennsylvania’s
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology presents what it deems “the real story of the Ancient Olympic Games.” In it, the museum questions whether we’ve upheld the Olympic ideal in a series of sections dealing with athletes, politics, sexism, and commercialism.
The Games are held in the summer and winter and are characterized by different athletic events, some of which might be considered seasonal, such as ice hockey in the winter. On the Web, you’ll discover more about each of these events, including rules and regulations, official governing bodies, and athlete profiles.
- The Olympic Games were held every four years (the length of an Olympiad) until 1992, when the IOC’s decision to hold Games every two years (alternating between summer and winter) went into effect.
- If you want to enhance your Olympic viewing experience, consider learning as much as you can about a sport or two that you find interesting; when the next Games roll around, you’ll know who and what to watch for, which could raise your excitement level.
- Although official federations are great sources of information, the Web provides a variety of ways to learn about Olympic sports. Don’t limit yourself to the sites below; reading the news sites we’ve posted at the end of this guide will help you become familiar with recent competitions, athletes, and commentary.
- In addition to official Olympic sports, there are recognized sports—such as bowling, golf, rugby and surfing—which, although held to IOC standards, are not included in the official Games program. Links to each sport's international governing body are provided in the "ARISF Members" section.
- The IOC is in charge of a somewhat secretive process of voting sports in and out of the Olympic program. In 2005, baseball and softball were both voted out, and the decision stirred controversy, as discussed in a USA Today article. Here is another article discussing the elimination vote from the Canadian media company CTV’s site.
provides a basic introduction to all the sports included in the Olympic program, including summer and winter sports. Click on appropriate icons for access to history, details about each sport’s official federation, and some athlete profiles. See the “discipline” section for basic rules and to learn about different events.
provides an index of every international federation for summer, winter, and other recognized sports. You can link directly to each federation’s Web site for ample sport-specific information, including rules and regulations, calendars of events, news, and more.
provides extensive coverage of each sport, but is more compact than what you’ll find on official federation Web sites, which makes it especially helpful if you have less time to research. In addition to the latest news related to each event, you’ll find high-quality photos and videos as well as a basic “Inside the Sport” section with explanations of rules.
The next Games are less than a year away, and the Web is already buzzing. We’ve found sites offering comprehensive coverage, including official organizations, credible publications, and sports networks. By summer 2008, you’ll be well-versed in current and archived Olympic news, and may just find yourself on the edge of your seat anticipating the next big moment.
- If you’re new to the Games, start with the official Olympic sites, which provide well-rounded coverage of all of the events. You might also consider signing up for an e-mailed newsletter to stay informed.
- Television networks on the Web such as NBC and ESPN often utilize material from outside sources like the Associated Press and various nationally syndicated newspapers. Take note of the sources of the articles you read, and consult several instead of only one; you’ll get better news coverage and fair commentary.
- If you want to follow Olympic sports year-round, you may have trouble finding television coverage of less-mainstream events. Visit NBC regularly for updates of events, such as national championships and Olympic trials, for specific sports.
For official Olympics sites…
privides articles and archives about sporting events as well as press releases and live results. The Olympic Review, an IOC publication, is also available for download. You can access the IOC and international sports calendars as well.
provides news specific to next summer’s Games. News is divided into categories, including Olympic Dynamics, which features articles charting Beijing’s progress and transformation leading up to the big event. You’ll also find official press releases, sports news, and happenings in the Olympic cities, Beijing and Hong Kong.
For sports networks and publications…
is maintained by NBC, the exclusive American broadcast network of the Olympics. Look for headline news and individual sport updates in addition to expert commentary and analysis, photos and videos. You’ll also find featured blogs, which often comment on current news items. Some articles may require a free online subscription to the Chicago Tribune, which you can register for easily by following prompts. Articles are also provided by ESPN and the Associated Press, among other sources not requiring subscriptions.
maintains an Olympic Sports section. You’ll find in-depth features and analysis from top sports journalists, as well as video clips and photos. You can also click on individual sports at the top of the page to peruse updated news wire reports from Reuters and the Associated Press.
provides links to Associated Press articles related to the Olympics. News stories, organized by date, cover a range of subjects. Look for features about current events in Beijing, such as environmental concerns, as well as articles discussing sporting event results.
presents an Olympics section as part of its general sports coverage. Clean and sparse-looking at first glance, this site actually offers a great deal of news and analysis in its Associated Press articles. It covers a broad range of sports, rather than focusing only on the most mainstream events. Watch out for the pop-up advertisements, though.
The New York Times
provides an archive of both broad and specific articles related to the Olympic Games.
For alternative sources…
provides news and information about the business of Olympic bidding. You’ll learn how cities vie to host the Games, the process behind the decision, and the issues affecting bidding. Occasional feature articles supplement daily and archived news reports. Be aware that there are many pop-up ads floating around here.
Around the Rings
is an independent source for Olympic Movement news and information. To access the site’s varied features, including a weekly newsletter and an Olympic Bid Power Index (which appraises cities contending to host the Games), you’ll need to purchase a subscription.
The Olympics are a worldwide event, and the Web can help you participate in a spirited global discussion of the Games by way of blogs and forums. Visit the sites below to question other fans, tell them what you think, and absorb what they have to say about the Olympics.
- The IOC has decided to allow athletes to blog during the Beijing Olympics, though there are many restriction. Athletes may not interview or report on other athletes, post video of Olympic events or use their blogs for commercial gain.
- To find more Olympics-focused blogs, try a blog search engine like Technorati or BlogPulse. You can search using specific words and phrases, such as “Olympic Games + Judo,” and you can search for full blogs or blog posts.
For Olympics blogs…
provides an Olympics “Community” of blogs written by the Network’s analysts and by Olympic athletes and fans. You’ll also find groups devoted to different sports, and you can create your own fan group
Beijing Olympic Games 2008
is a blog with summaries of news stories related to the upcoming Olympics. Links to sources are provided, so you can read full articles. The list on the right sidebar has older, categorized posts for your convenience.
presents a China Blog, which features in-depth commentary about current events in China. This blog, maintained by five experienced Time reporters based in China, is not Olympic-related, but it will occasionally reference news about the event. Regardless, you’ll learn more about this intriguing host country.
Beijing Visitor Blog
features useful advice and anecdotes for would-be travelers to the Olympic city and capital of China. You’ll find pleasant photography and postings on various topics, including hotel and hostel recommendations, up-and-coming restaurants, and intriguing descriptions of parks and neighborhoods in the city.
For Olympics message boards and forums…
provides message boards for fans. You can read past posts, including angry reactions to various bids and advice from coaches to young athletes. Post your own comments and questions after registering as a member of the site.
, although strewn with annoying pop-up ads, has an extensive forum section. After you register, you’ll have access to all of the discussions, which center around various countries’ Olympic bids.
Live athletic competition is thrilling, and the Olympics are no exception. On the Web, you can plan a trip to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games or even get an early start planning for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. You’ll learn how to purchase tickets, and discover alternative ways to attend the festivities such as volunteering.
- A live sale of remaining Olympics tickets began in October on a first-come, first-serve basis. For further clarification, see the FAQ page provided by CoSport, the official site for Olympic ticket and accommodation sales in the United States.
- Consider packages that include tickets and accommodation; some even provide meals, transportation to events, and tours of Beijing. The sites below present some options to help you find a plan suiting your needs.
- Other ways to attend the Games include volunteering and participating in the torch relay, both of which are typically difficult gigs to get if you’re not a resident of the host country. Getting a job with the torch relay in particular is quite competitive; you’ll have to go through a strict nomination and selection process. See the official torch site for further information.
For attending as a fan …
, the official Beijing 2008 site, posts ticket announcements and news about sales, including a chart showing prices for different events at a glance. You can link to the official ticketing Web site from a link on the bottom right, but this is only applicable to residents of China.
, an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team, offers various packages for fans. Although live ticket sales have already begun, you can e-mail the company at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about different options, such as packages including tickets and accommodation or meals and ground transport.
specializes in sports travel; it offers several packages to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. You can purchase tickets to any event, including the opening and closing ceremonies, along with luxury hotel accommodation, transportation to and from events, and a guided tour of the city.
Western States Ticket Sales
offers tickets to Olympic competitions for most sports. You can browse for tickets here, but to purchase, you’ll have to order tickets over the phone.
For volunteering opportunities …
helps foreigners apply for volunteer roles in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Read about general policies, such as training and work schedules, and consult the application guide. Click “Signing Up” to fill out and submit your application online.
For the torch relay …
, a worldwide computing partner of the Beijing Olympic Games, is organizing the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay in China. Watch videos, read personal essays, and help decide which three individuals should run the torch.
For travel safety ...
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
offers material about disease risks (such as for traveler's diarrhea and breathing problems), preparing for your trip (such as packing a health kit) and staying healthy. It also includes links to information for athletes traveling to China for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Ah, to compete in the Olympics—the prestige, the pride, the pain. Yes, pain. It’s not easy, by any means, to reach the skill level of an Olympic athlete. Physiology, training, nutrition, and mental strength all play a part in your success or failure. To learn more about what it takes (and whether you have it) consult these sites. You’ll find general advice and training information to help get you started on the arduous road to Olympic glory. If you decide to sink back into the couch and just watch instead, that’s fine, too.
- Consult the official federation Web site for your chosen sport. You’ll find information about competitions, athletes, coaches, and upcoming events. Olympic.org, the official site of the Olympic Movement, provides links to sports federation Web sites.
- Most Olympic athletes begin training at a very young age. However, there are endurance events, such as the marathon, that are led by older athletes. If you are 28 years old and want to be a gymnast, for example, your chances are rather slim. If you are considering a triathlon, however, you can likely train and improve, regardless of your age.
- This New York Times article reveals the successes of older, more experienced female runners versus their younger counterparts.
- If you want to train for the Olympics but are concerned about fitting it into your work schedule, Home Depot may be able to help. The company is the world leader in employing Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. You can learn more on the company’s Web site.
provides advice on “How to Become an Olympian.” Although the process is condensed into an eight-step list, behind each step lurks interminable amounts of money, time, and effort. Consider this a helpful (if bare-bones) summary of what one must go through to compete at the Olympic level.
The United States Olympic Committee
has a page of links to its training centers in Colorado Springs, CO, Lake Placid, NY, and Chula Vista, CA. In addition, you’ll find links to the Lakeshore Foundation facilities for Paralympic athletes in Birmingham, AL. Note that the link to the site of the Home Depot Olympic Training Center in Carson, CA, does not work.
National Geographic Adventure
published a piece on Olympic training, including tips and exercise illustrations. Advice is separated into speed, power, and endurance, and is given by Olympic competitors in appropriate sports; e.g., a speed skater discusses how she improves her quickness, while a bobsledder talks about gaining more power, and a cross-country skier explains how she keeps up her endurance. You’ll also learn more about the steroid DHEA.
The U.S. Olympic Committee
has conducted numerous podcast interviews with Olympic athletes in various sports. Listen as they discuss how it feels to compete at the highest level and what it took to get there. You’ll learn about the hardships they’ve faced in their careers, and perhaps begin to understand the level of commitment required of them.
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